Frequency is one of the most important concepts of radio engineering, as well as physical and technical disciplines. In our high-tech era the term “frequency” is referred to under the lens of Internet and wireless technologies. Wi-Fi frequencies define the tempo at which information is moving through diverse devices on the network. Wi-Fi networks usually utilize two common frequency bands that are 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. If you have wondered what frequency is better to use, proceed reading our guide on how to pick up the best option for you.
How to Choose a Frequency
Providers and individuals often ask themselves whether they should choose the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz operating frequency when setting up a wireless network. What is the difference between these variations?
The choice between only these frequency bands is determined by the fact that they are most commonly used for civilian wireless data exchange. In general, other frequencies are also applied in different countries, but the vast majority of Wi-Fi network devices operate in the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz band.
Frequency standardization is handled by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), an international non-profit organization working to standardize frequencies for wireless equipment. Below is a comparative analysis of each frequency by key parameters, explaining their advantages and disadvantages.
The 2.4 GHz frequency is much more congested than the 5 GHz frequency. This is because historically, wireless devices were the first ones to use this band. Therefore, wireless networks, that are growing daily, are predominantly operating at 2.4 GHz.
From the above it is obvious that in terms of band load parameters it is preferable to choose the 5 GHz frequency as fewer people apply it and thus the frequency is more free.
Physical and electronic interference
The 5 GHz band is very sensitive to physical obstacles within signal spreading. Buildings’ walls, trees, and even tree crowns can significantly degrade the quality of connection. So for data transmission on this frequency, it is important that the receiver and transmitter are in clear line of sight.
The 2.4 GHz frequency is less sensitive to physical obstacles, but is affected by radio electronic interference. Many household devices such as phones, microwave ovens, refrigerators exude radio electronic waves in this range. According to this criterion, 5 GHz looks preferable.
Signal propagation range
Waves propagating at 5 GHz form a smaller Fresnel zone – an ellipsoid along which they move around a straight line between the transmitter and receiver.
It has been found that the less interference enters the Fresnel zone, the greater distance the radio signal can go through. Since this zone is smaller at 5 GHz, the distance within data are transmitted is greater compared to the 2.4 GHz band.
Cost of equipment
Due to the fact that 2.4 GHz devices began to be used earlier, their price is lower than the cost of equipment with a 5 GHz operating band. Regarding the price of networking equipment, the 2.4 GHz band looks more attractive.
To summarize, the choice of the frequency range – 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz – depends primarily on the environment in which the wireless network will operate and its required parameters.